The sports industry is an intense and busy industry to work in, especially if you’re doing sports PR.
Last week, a few of our members attended the PRSA Detroit “PR in the NFL” lecture held in Southfield, Mich. and we saw just how intense sports PR can be.
Matt Barnhart, director of media relations for the Detroit Lions, led the lecture. He offered insight to working with players, administration, the media, and, of course, fans.
A lot of his insight and tips can be transferred to more than just football. You can use them for working in other professional sports, too – like hockey, baseball or basketball. (And, you can probably take a lot of his advice and use it in other industries, too!)
Here’s a bit of what we learned.
When working with athletes, remind them…
- Cooperating with the media is part of their job.
- The local media is the most consistent connection to the fans.
- Be straightforward, honest and develop relationships.
- Nothing is off the record.
- They are global ambassadors of the sport, the NFL, the team and their city.
- They aren’t in control of the questions, but they are in control of their answers.
PR in the NFL
- PR should touch every aspect of an organization.
- Successful PR pros truly understand.
- The top PR person in any organization should be the president or CEO.
- The role of PR in the NFL: football communications, corporate communications and crisis communications.
- The goal is to get as many eyes and ears as possible to tune in on Sundays. All stories, reports, interviews and events ultimately lead to this, even during the off-season.
- The #1 goal for the Lions: WIN!
- You must grow publicity and brand.
- Manage media obligations and opportunities
- Oversee media schedules.
- Train players to handle obligations, stories and interviews.
- Keep football the #1 priority.
- Fans want to connect. Make the connections and make it positive.
- Goal: to compete, contribute and succeed.
- Vision: to be a valuable piece to a winning team.
- Mission: to put forth effort it takes to win.
- You are communicating to your key publics: business sponsorships and sponsors, season ticket holders, and fans.
- Examples: front office changes, fan protests, sick or hurt players, arrests (for DUIs, abuse…etc…), fired general manager, missing players or coaches, star player eject from game on national television, collective bargaining agreements, off season program violations, coach or player death.
- Every strategy starts with a plan.
How PR proves itself
- Successful PR pros continually prove their value to the organization.
- Information is power.
- “Make every day a strategy session.”
- Promote positive relationships.
- Understand and consider primary and secondary publics.